A wild grass field, silent and still… It’s always exciting to watch how a landscape that you are creating comes to life. This time, I was given early access to The Grass Essentials pack by Andrew Price. And thus, the most tedious process of creating grass blades by hand was moved completely out of the equation.
And guess what? I was just creating, straight from my imagination. The result is this pretty believable wild grass field, so I want to share some tips for creating grass, when you have ready made assets at hand.
1. Use Particle Textures to Control Distribution Pattern
Without any doubt, distribution pattern is the most crucial thing to keep in mind when trying to simulate nature. Be it a field, a lawn, or anything else related to greenery.
Grass may appear to grow randomly, but its distribution is nevertheless based on some kind of mathematical formula.
In computer graphics, we have procedural noises at our disposal. When used as the Particle Texture, these noises produce very natural patterns.
2. A Huge Simulation Depends on a Tiny Grass Blade
No matter how elaborate is your simulation, it won’t look great if the initial 3d model of the grass clump or blade is lame. So if you grow 250k particles and the field still looks ‘thin’, tweak the initial model. For example, these grass blades models from the Grass Essentials pack each feature its own micro-particle system, that produce the seeds.
And this small detail alone makes the whole field appear full. Not only it’s true to nature, but it also makes the simulation look furry. And that’s pretty much what sells the image, in my point of view.
3. Ground Texture Still Matters, Even if Barely Visible
Even if you cover 100% of the surface with your particles, still there will be patches of underlying surface visible. In another words, make sure that the ground texture complements your grass system.
For example, procedural noises can be applied not only to the particle distribution, but also to the multi-layer ground material. As a mix factor, or simply as a diffuse color.
Try that: think of underlying surface as a part of a bigger simulation.
4. Translucency Plays a Big Role in a Wild Grass Field Creation
Light, passing through thin objects like grass, makes them look like they are glowing. Indeed, the world is not made of plaster, and translucent patches of grass with light captured inside them prove this point.
Especially if you have envisioned the sunset scene. And especially, if your scene features a strong back lighting.
Luckily, I found that in the Grass Essentials pack we have translucency, as well as other properties, set up for us.
5. Random is Your Friend
Even the simplest grass lawn contains so much variation, that we need to apply randomness to imitate this ordered chaos. Now imagine the wild grass.
Randomize the size and, most importantly, the rotation of the particles. If you use a hair system in Blender, be sure to turn on Velocity/Hair rotation and crank up the Random value.
Even throw in some random objects like wooden planks. Why not?
This was my (yet another) 5 cents on grass creation. And of course, many thanks goes to Andrew for providing surprisingly compelling grass to experiment with, during cold winter evenings.